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Oscar 2015 Predictions, Foreign Film: 'The Libertador', 'Pelo Malo' Could Compete for Venezuela; Germany Picks Film

First Posted: Aug 30, 2014 03:06 PM EDT
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The foreign film Oscar race is starting to get competitive with Venezuela narrowing its submission contenders and Germany, Nepal and Luxembourg already submitting their respective choices.

Venezuela has never been nominated for the Academy Awards but has been submitting since 1978. The country has submitted 23 times with a number of great films. This year the country has one of the strongest lineups of the year with two major contenders.

The biggest contender is "El Libertador," which stars Venezuela's biggest star Edgar Ramirez. The movie has been called the most expensive film ever made in Latin America and it focuses on the accomplishments of the country's most important historical figure, Simon Bolivar.

"El Libertador" premiered at the Toronto International Film festival as well as the Los Angeles Film Festival and that is always a plus especially since the Academy prefers movies that premiere at the most prestigious festivals in the world.

The film however scored mixed reviews at Toronto. Critics said it truncated the historical events while other said it lacked the epic scale to make it a great film.

The other major contender that Venezuela has is "Pelo Malo." The drama premiered at the Tribeca, Toronto and San Sebastian Film Festivals where it scored rave reviews. The movie tells the story of a 9-year-old boy's obsession with straightening his hair, which elicits a tidal wave of homophobic panic in his hard-working mother.

"Pelo Malo" is a bit smaller than "El Liberator" and lacks the big stars. However, the fact that it was a critical success could give it an advantage.  

Three other films also in consideration will be "The Longest Distance," the women-centered drama "Liz in September" and the acclaimed thriller "Solo."

Venezuela is slated to announce its final selection in the coming days.

Meanwhile, three-time Academy Award-winner Germany has submitted "Beloved Sisters." The film by Dominik Graf tells the story of a love triangle between rising poet Friedrich Schiller and two aristocratic sisters. The movie had its world premiere at the Berlin Festival where it was met with a standing ovation.

Germany has been nominated 18 times but has not been nominated since 2009 when "The White Ribbon" was the front-runner. The last time the country won the Oscar was in 2006 when "The Lives of Others" surprised and beat out "Pan's Labyrinth."

"Beloved Sisters" is a strong contender especially since the Academy likes to nominate period films and biopics. Additionally it is premiering at the New York Film Festival, and that festival is well known for showcasing future Oscar nominees. Last year "Omar" was shown at the festival before obtaining its Oscar nomination.

Another advantage that "Beloved Sisters" may have is that it will be released in the U.S. by Music Box. Almost all of the nominated films always get U.S. distribution and are readily available to American audiences.

Luxembourg also submitted the documentary "Never Die Young." The feature was picked by a panel of seven people representing all audiovisual sectors in the country. The film tells the story of the misadventures of a 12-year-old schoolboy during the 1960s after he is packed off to boarding school and returns as a heroin addict.

Luxembourg has never been nominated for an Oscar and the selection they chose this year is unlikely to make the final nomination list. "Never Die Young" won the Luxembourg Film Prize but was not selected into any of the major Film Festivals.

Documentaries also don't usually do well in the category. Last year was a huge surprise when Cambodia's documentary "The Missing Picture" was nominated. However, when Germany submitted "Pina," the Academy decided to nominated it for Documentary instead of foreign film. As a result, "Never Die Young" may be one of the dark horses in the race.

Nepal will also be a dark horse in the race as well. The country selected "Jhola" to compete for foreign film. It is only the sixth time the country has competed. However, it has yet to be nominated. The film tells the story of a woman who must kill herself through self-immolation upon her husband's death.

"Jhola" has not had huge international exposure and has also not played at any of the major film festivals. Unless the drama can get a huge marketing campaign and a U.S. distributor, it is unlikely this movie will get nominated.

A number of countries have already submitted including Turkey which submitted the Palme D'Or winner "Winter Sleep." Hungary also submitted the Un Certain Regard winner at Cannes "White God," and Poland submitted the box office hit "Ida." Romania also submitted "The Japanese Dog."        

The foreign film category has recently been won by such films as Italy's "The Great Beauty," Austria's "Amour," Iran's "A Separation," Denmark's "In a Better World" and Argentina's "The Secret in their Eyes."   

The Academy will select the nominees in January. 

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